Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trail Diary: Long Path from Rondout Valley over Samson Mountain

The plan: Run the Long Path from Peekamoose Rd. in the Upper Rondout Valley over Bangle Hill, Samson Mtn, and down to Vernooy Falls and back, about 16 miles.

The reality: 30% grade for the first mile plus (no, I doth not kid thee, I checkethed the map...after the fact).  Way unused and overgrown trail.  Stumbled in the woods at times finding our way.  Went right when we should have gone left.  A stretch of Rubus (shades of the FLT).  A whopping 10 miles (almost) in about 2.5 hours.  Quad burner up and down.  Only fell twice.  Some nice running over the top, a touch of groove & flow.  Never found the falls.  Running partner had to get back so we cut it short--which made my cranky achilles happy.  Was even smart enough to NOT go run my 7 mile snowmobile trail afterwards.  50 miles and 11 hours running in the past seven days, pretty good for me.  A Lagunitas IPA big boy tonight (and some ancillary beverages)  to help convince me not to run again in the morning.  Need a day off.

The conclusion: Fun to run a trail it seemed like no one had been on since before the earth cooled.  Now I've done it.  So I don't have to do it again. Not that I wouldn't.  But I won't.  You should.  Just to say you did.  Once. But every trail is a good trail, and every run on a trail a good run.  So go...RUN a happy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stone Cat...Yes!

Signed up for the 50 a couple days ago, and just booked a room.  I'm in!!  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Trail Diary: Finger Lakes Trail - Allegany County

In the March 2010 Ultrarunning, Gary Dudney wrote " shouldn't be doing long runs only in optimal conditions if you truly want to be prepared." He also said "Time spent on your feet, not miles covered, is what is important" in ultra training. Great--because my run Sunday (7.25.10) met both those conditions!

My plan was to run the Finger Lakes Trail in Allegany County, NY from Peet Hill Rd. to Huyck Rd. and return, about 14 miles total.  If all was still good at that point, I'd go west on the trail to Kingsbury Hill Rd and back, another 6 roundtrip.  The topography here is pretty flat, couple hundred feet of elevation change max, so this seemed like a reasonable Sunday-morning-have-to-finish-before-11am run.

As I drove to the trailhead, the rain started.  You can guess where this is going.  But it wasn't a hard rain, and it was 68 degrees, so no problem.

First hundred feet of trail was through tall grass, and my shoes were soaked in 30 seconds.  But it was 68 degrees, so no problem.

Next mile featured lots of ankle-high Rubus (raspberry).  My gaiters were...not on my ankles.  But it was 68 degrees, so...wait, no, that doesn't work here.  Try running a gauntlet of razor blades to perk up your Sunday morning.  But this was life, not death, by a thousand cuts.  Nothing like running a trail to make you feel alive.  Groove & flow...(and curse as needed...)

There was some decent running at times in this stretch, including a nice pine stand with a soft carpet.  The trail changes direction a lot, and isn't always obvious, so I was mentally thanking the volunteers who did such a great job freshening up the markers.

Next came some switchbacks, dropping about 250 feet of elevation into a valley bottom with an easy hop across a peaceful little stream.  Remember, it was raining.  Have you guessed where this is going yet?

About 4.5 miles and some mixed dirt/paved road running from the Peet Rd. trailhead lies the West Branch Rd. trailhead.  This is where the real fun began.  As I entered the woods here, I wished I had my headlamp.  Kidding.  Not.

The rain picked up.  A lot.  Ok, more than a lot.  The trail was extremely runnable here, which was good because as the thunder started and it got cold and windy, I needed to move fast to stay warm.  Didn't feel like 68 degrees any more.

I made it to Hess Rd., just short of Huyck Rd.  A  little voice suggested I head back to the car and run (or maybe swim) west on the trail from there.  Good little voice.  Back down into the valley bottom.  Remember the little stream I hopped across on my way out?  It was now about 12 feet wide, chocolate brown, boiling, wicked fast.  I found a stout balance stick and waded in.  Knee deep.  Living on the edge here.  Had I been even 20 minutes later getting back to this spot, I wouldn't have been able to cross the stream.

From this point back to the car was, simply, a slog.  The trail was either a stream or a suck-your-shoes-off mud pit.  There was flow here, but it wasn't the groove type!  And, oh yeah--the Rubus was all still there, waiting patiently for my return.

Back at the car, drinking my Hammer Recoverite before heading back onto the trail westbound, a pickup truck stopped.  "You need some help?"  "No thanks, I was just running the trail."  Silence.  Blank stare.  My guess is he was thinking he misunderstood what I just said, because no one would be...what?...running?...the trail? a downpour? (not to mention smiling about it!!)

If you go to this trailhead, don't run west.  At least, no time soon.  I tried it.  Fail.  There's a huge amount of blowdown going this way, though it appeared salvage ops were underway.  After climbing over, under, and through trees for 25 minutes trying to find and follow the trail, I called it a day.  About 13 miles in 3:20.  Remember, it's not the miles covered, but time spent on your feet...

Great test for the new Cascadias.  Passed with flying colors.  The socks, on the other hand.....

Bottom line: decent trail (though certainly not my favorite), especially the section north from West Branch Rd.  But any time on a trail is time well spent.  So....go run in the woods!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trails....the joy of finding them

For me, one fun part of running is discovering new places to run--especially new trails and their kin, old logging roads, deer paths, etc. It's easy to miss the stuff right in your backyard because you're always looking for the long/high/steep/technical/gnarly stuff. On lunch one day this week, I decided to scope out a little dotted line I saw on a map. Only about 3 miles (and, at times, a 14% grade) from my office. For those in the area, it's the loop from the parking area at the junction of Moore Hill and Glade Hill Roads in Grahamsville, NY. From the DEC parking area, head out on the snowmobile trail, then just follow the red trail markers. Becomes a jeep road for a while (very beat up, full of ruts and rocks and water, great running) before heading back into the woods. I couldn't finish it that first day since I was on my lunch hour, so a couple days later I went up early, before work, and ran it. Sweet! The middle few miles are in upland hardwoods and runnable as hell. Yes, it all just flows there. This could be a nice long run route, with a stop back at the car every 7 miles to refuel (I do prefer longer loops or point-to-points, but this would work and it's close to home).

Another day, I ran the course for a pending mountain bike race, at a little 900 acre park 10 miles from home. Wow! Deep, cool woods and beautiful singletrack.

And I've even started running the old logging roads on my property with renewed vigor, not to mention finally starting work on that loop trail I've planned for years. I'll be lucky to get a one-mile loop out of it, but hey, if I could step out my door any given day and get a few trail miles in without even starting the car, how can that be a bad thing? Talk about finding trails in your own backyard...

So look around...RUN!!...and you might be surprised what you find.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Groove and Flow? Why now?

Because. After 30 years of running, often on trails, almost always by myself, I discovered something. Ultras. And the ultrarunning family. I am still dumbfounded that I never connected with this whole trail running/nature loving/beer drinking (craft-brewed IPAs and their relatives only, thank you)/we're-all-in-this-together clan before. In 2007, after living with a variety of running injuries for years, I decided I was done. Running was over. Well, no. But only now and then. You know, that didn't last. New stretching, new shoes, new outlook, new races--my first half-marathon, Oak Tree in Geneseo, NY, Labor Day 2008. Hardest thing I'd ever run. Knew I needed more. Talked with a woman (name? sorry, those brain cells are long gone) wearing a "Finger Lakes 50s" shirt. "50K and 50 miles" she said. "But it's so different" she said. "Everyone is there for everyone else" she said. "It's a big family" she said. Hmm. Sounds cool. But...50K? 50...MILES?! Wackos. Impossible. A marathon would be enough. I ran five. Not enough. And not right. I turned 50. A 50 something..."K" seemed like the only thing possible...for 50 years. Seemed cool. Signed up for the Finger Lakes 50K. And I'm a born-again runner. My trail running love has been validated and lifted on high. I only wish I'd paid attention and made the cutoff to run one more loop (plus a bit) to do the 50 miler. I could have, easy (no, hard, but know). But I was having so much fun. Just running. Talking. Laughing. Grooving and flowing. So now, reborn and renewed, a blog to document it all. I can't remember when life was so much fun!

Groove and Flow

Groove and flow....what's it mean?
Simple. And you know it. You get in a groove, running, soft singletrack in deep woods, cool morning dew and the peace of a new day...and it all just flows. Simple. And very, very cool.